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Forum Home > Murder Case Reviews > Catherine Hayes, Burnt Alive, 1726.

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A few interesting facts emerged, from scouring some of the contemporary newspapers of the time. In the topic, " More Ghastly Murders ",  there is mention of a place in Worcestershire, Ombersley. The report says that John Hayes, and his family, farmed in the area, and after they collected all the body parts of him they could find, he was carted off back to Ombersley to be buried. It seems, that having confessed along with Wood and Billings, just before her trial, she claimed total innocence. Also reported at the time, was the finding of a second headless body, although this one hadn't been hacked to bits. There is no report however of the finding of a second head. After her marriage to John Hayes, she claims to have given birth to 14 children, and that they were happy together. She then went on to contridict this by stating that the reason she had him barbarously murdered, was because he kept her short of money, and she nearly starved to death. The real bombshell came when she realised the sentence she had been given, " To be burnt at the Stake " was going to be carried out. She then confessed that the real father of Thomas Billings was in fact her husbands father, also John Hayes, and she had concieved the child while his servant at the farm in Ombersley. This meant of course, that Thomas Billings, aka Thomas Hayes, had in fact killed his own brother, and then had lain with his own mother. Such shocking goings on, even in the rather decadent London of 1726, were not to be tolerated, and both the men were ordered to be hanged, and then Gibbetted. In the end, this fate was only to be enjoyed by Thomas Billings, Wood having died of gaol fever in Newgate. There is a slight discrepancy with the executioners name as well, in the topic it's quoted as Richard Arnett, but in the newspaper, it's Richard Arnold. It's of little matter really, for he died two years later, and of no concern to Catherine Hayes at all. She was reportedly reduced to ashes in a little over two hours after the fire was lit. There were about 10 executions that day, and prior to the main event, a stand collapsed, injuring many, and before the crowd could be cleared, many other climbed what remained to get a good view, and that collapsed as well. So, the 9th May, 1726, was what some would call, a damn good days entertainment.


A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 10, 2013 at 4:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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